Note: This information is intended as general advice only and may not account for your unique circumstances such as usage habits, home and power provider. Please talk to your lines company for specific information.
Hey there! Have you landed on our resource in the midst of a power cut? Don’t panic! While power cuts aren’t ideal, there are some things you can do straight away to keep informed and the household calm.
In this guide you’ll learn things like:
- Hazards in the home during a power cut.
- Why switching off appliances might be a good idea.
- How to get information about the power outage.
Call your lines company
We have a webpage listing all the lines company by region that you can refer to and find the number to call. You might wish to wait a while before calling them, in case the power cut is temporary. It’s reasonably common for a fault to only last 5-10 minutes. But if you’re concerned about the length of the outage, your lines company should be able to help. You might also consider checking the website or social media accounts of your local lines company to see if this outage was planned or if they have a status update.
Light up your path the best you can
At night-time, keeping the floor well lit is an early priority, particularly if the household is all up and about. Clear access to the bathroom, emergency cupboard and make sure that bedrooms are hazard free. If you’ve prepared for a power cut, use a camping lamp or similar placed at the edge of the room by the wall, ensuring that the light source reaches the floor completely.
Keep doorways and entrances well illuminated and do a scan of living areas to clear up any loose items that might create a tripping hazard.
Make sure you have torches nearby
The most valuable torch is that which you’ve got to hand. While it might be tempting to use your phone’s flashlight, it’s not ideal for extended periods as it can drain the battery of your phone that’s best used to staying connected and making calls.
Once you’ve retrieved your torches from their storage spot (under the sink, in the pantry, the laundry etc.), keep them close to hand for everyone in the home.
Switch off appliances at wall
It might seem a bit strange to go around switching off power outlets once the power’s shut off, but there’s actually a good reason for this - not all appliances are designed to have power surges suddenly coming back on via the mains after no power at all. This can overload your equipment and for some sensitive items, cause damage or safety issues. This is why many households decide to unplug or switch off big items like the computer and TV, then turn them back on once the power is back up and running.
Another option that’s popular is the use of surge protector multiplugs. These units have components in them that protect their connected devices from sudden jolts of electricity, preventing overload and damage. When more power is passed through the surge protector multiplug than what’s required by all connected devices, the excess electricity will be handled by a grounding wire inside the unit.
If you do decide to make use of surge protectors, we’d suggest doing your research on different models by reading reviews and reputable consumer advice. In matters of safety and device protection, it can be worth spending a little bit more than the cheapest options to ensure the performance is good and it lasts the distance.
Cold night? Keep the windows and doors closed.
When the power shuts off out of nowhere in cold conditions, quickly sealing up any drafts or gaps around the house will make a world of difference. Close all the windows and doors in the bedrooms and living areas, and then check for drafts under the doorways. . During a power cut, visibility might be low, grab something nearby that you can use to stop the drafts, like a rolled-up towel.
Want to know more about keeping the home warm at night? Read our full guide here.
Keep the fridge and freezer closed
When the power shuts off, one of our biggest worries is the fridge and freezer food spoiling. A lengthy power cut can spell disaster without some proactive steps in place.
First thing to do is retrieve what you may need from the fridge right away. Doing so while the fridge is still cold means you can close the doors and stay away from the unit until power comes back on. Keeping your fridge and freezer doors closed maintains the seal of cold air inside the appliance and can help it to stay cold. In the case of the freezer, this approach can slow down the process of defrosting.
If the power cut ends up lasting a while, you may need to find another option such as a chilly bin with ice to store your items.
Make sure kids’ bedrooms are safe
Power outages might be just an inconvenience to grown ups, but for kids, they can be a bit daunting. Even if the kids are asleep, take the time to clear any hazards from their floors and consider placing some light in the nearby hallway in case they wake up and get out of bed. Best case scenario? They sleep right through it and wake up in the morning none the wiser about the power being off. But it pays to be safe!
Clear the floors of tripping hazards
And the kids' rooms aren’t the only place where tripping hazards exist. Whoever has the torch first should prioritise doing a small ‘power cut clean up’, scanning each room and moving any loose objects off the floor. If there are any cables in open spaces, unplug and roll these up and pop them somewhere out of the way. You should be able to get around the home with moderate levels of artificial light without the worry of tripping and falling.
Is it safe to leave? Chat to the neighbours for information
Depending on the hour your power goes out, it’s worth asking the neighbours if they’ve got power. This might be a quick text message, otherwise a matter of popping over to see if they’ve got a power cut and more importantly to make sure they are okay. If you’ve got elderly neighbours, check on them first!
Occupying your time during the outage
If the power’s out and everyone’s awake, you might need to get creative with ways to pass the time. Board games are always a winner - just make sure you have the lighting for it! Otherwise, a pack of cards or a good book can come in handy while you wait for things to come back online. Don’t be offended if someone’s idea of passing the time involves going to bed - there’s usually one in every household!
Listen on a wireless radio or check online for any news
In this modern era, we can get most, if not all, our information online with our smart device’s mobile data. Checking social media, news websites or power lines company websites will be helpful, as will streaming local radio. But if you don’t have any power on your device or means of charging your battery, a wireless, battery-operated transistor radio is a good back up plan. If the power cut is spread across the entire town or city, news stations on AM or FM will report this to keep you in the loop. This is also a good source of information if the power cut is part of rough weather or another natural event.